Microsoft Publisher for Mac has never been released and even in 2017, it looks unlikely it ever will be so we’ve taken a look at the top ten best alternatives to Publisher for Mac. Here we’ve reviewed and compared the best Publisher equivalents on OS X and macOS and also show you a few tricks to open and edit Publisher files on Mac. Although there is a way to run Publisher on Mac, there is some excellent native Desktop Publishing Software (DTP) for Mac which we’ll look at here. Note that all of the software featured here works on the latest versions of OS X and macOS including 10.11 El Capitan, 10.12 Sierra and 10.13 High Sierra.

Publisher For Mac: 10 Awesome Alternatives

1. Lucidpress ($5.95+/month – Free Trial)

Lucidpress is from the makers of Lucidchart diagramming software, one of the most popular alternatives to Visio for Mac, and is a user-friendly online desktop publishing tool that lacks the power of InDesign but is both cheaper and easier to get started with quickly. Lucidpress is an online publishing software which means there’s nothing to download and it works on any platform. The basic single user version for just $5.95 per month serves well as a simple free alternative to Publisher although note that it can’t edit .pub files. You’ll need to subscribe to the Pro Plan ($12.95 per month) or Team Plan ($40 per month) if you’re intending on doing some serious desktop publishing on your Mac as they allow more advanced features such as embedding, custom fonts and saving in high quality 300 dpi print format.

publisher for mac alternative - lucidpress magazine

Lucidpress is ideal for creating publications online and offline such as for making newsletters, magazines, posters, pamphlets or flyers and brochures. You can add dynamic, interactive elements to documents and it’s very easy to drag and drop images and objects into documents. Lucidpress doesn’t have anything like Adobe Stock for sourcing and adding images but it can be used alongside photo stock services such as Free Range Stock (free) and Shutterstock (paid plans) instead. These services aren’t actually integrated with Lucidpress and don’t have the range and quality of high quality images and videos of Adobe Stock, but they’re still very comprehensive and complete. You can however edit images in Lucidpress once you’ve imported them. Note that if you’re intending on printing the publication, check first with your printing press as to what quality the require images to be as print requires higher 300 dpi resolutions than online 100 dpi images. Lucidpress templates are already configured for the demands of high quality print media and there are lots of striking and professional free magazine templates to choose from. In fact Lucidpress has a very good choice of templates for all types of publications including brochure templates, flyer templates, newsletter templates and poster templates.

publisher for mac - lucidpress magazine templates

When it comes to sharing documents, Lucidpress is integrated with services such as Dropbox, Flickr and Facebook so that you can easily import images and graphics from them and also publish directly from Lucidpress to them. The export options are more limited than InDesign but you can export to PDF, JPG and PNG for offline publication or embed them online in a website or blog.

publisher for mac - lucidpress

One of the strongest aspects of Lucidpress is team collaboration compared to most other Publisher software alternatives featured here, including InDesign. Lucidpress is an ideal alternative to Publisher on Mac or alternative to InDesign for Mac if you have to work as a team on an online magazine or newspaper which needs to be constantly updated. Lucidpress is built for collaboration and the team subscription supports from 5 to 300 users working on the same document at once. This allows you to see who is working on what, leave comments and chat to others directly within Lucidpress. You can also manage the permissions of users to limit commenting, editing or viewing. You can also see revision history so you can see who changed what, when and undo changes instantly. publisher for mac alternative - lucidpress colloboration

Finally, the Pro and Team plans of Lucidpress also include analytics to track how people are interacting with your publication. These are obviously not as advanced as Google Analytics but they are a convenient way to get a basic overview of how your online publication is performing.

There are three different pricing plans for Lucidpress although Lucidpress is free for single users, the free version is limited to just 3 pages per document, 25MB of storage and only exports PDFs in screen 100 dpi (not print 300 dpi) quality. You also can’t embed document in the free version meaning it’s a good way to familiarize yourself with Lucidpress but not suitable as a serious publishing solution. Alternatively, you can try the full version of Lucidpress free for 15 days and there’s no need to give your credit card details until the trial is over if you want to continue using it. If you subscribe annually, you pay in one lump sum for the year but receive a 20% discount. There are also 50% discounts for non-profit organizations and free accounts for students and teachers. For a full overview of Lucidpress pricing plans, check-out the pricing comparison chart. You can open a Lucidpress document instantly by clicking here to get a feel for it although you’ll need to sign-up for a free account to save anything. To get you up and running, there are also several Luicidpress tutorial videos.

Overall, Adobe InDesign is still ahead of Lucidpress for professional designers and publishers but Lucidpress is certainly one of the best Microsoft Publisher alternatives in our opinion. The overall number of features, templates and publishing power of Lucidpress is much better than Publisher and you can see a quick overview of some of the principal advantages of Lucidpress v Publisher here:publisher for mac - lucidpress v publisher

You can also watch Lucidpress in action here:

2. Adobe InDesign ($19.99/month – Free Trial)

Adobe InDesign is easily the leading industry DTP software for Mac and long ago overtook QuarkXPress which used to be the number one desktop publishing software for Mac users. While Quark stagnated from lack of development, InDesign has powered ahead and is now used professionally for everything from creating stationary, flyers, annual reports, calendars and posters to professional magazines, online interactive digital publications and e-books. Along the way, InDesign has become far more accessible to the average user too with an easier to use interface and a more affordable pricing plan as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. Previously InDesign would have set you back hundreds of dollars and months of training for a desktop application that needed upgrading every few years. Now you can be up and running with InDesign in minutes for just $19.99 a month and because it’s hosted online as part of Creative Cloud, you don’t need to upgrade any desktop software. Of course, the downside of this is that you have to pay a monthly subscription but the power and features of InDesign outweigh this in our opinion if you really want to produce some professional looking online and offline publications.

publisher for mac - indesign mac

For anyone that has used Adobe or Microsoft Office products, the InDesign ribbon interface and toolbox will be familiar already. You can easily create multi-column text blocks, apply font styles or changes and wrap text around objects in a few clicks. Most impressive in InDesign however is the way it handles images. For starters, you can of course import high quality vector graphics from other Adobe apps such as Illustrator and Photoshop in a few clicks. However, the most powerful imaging tool is undoubtedly Adobe Stock which integrates into all of its Creative Cloud software. Adobe Stock is a huge repository of around 55 million royalty free stock images and videos including 4K quality. These are instantly accessible and searchable via the CC Libraries menu along the right hand side of InDesign. This means you can find and import high quality professional images and multimedia for virtually any subject which saves both time and money in sourcing images for your publication. Note that Adobe Stock requires an additional subscription on top of InDesign although you can also try Adobe Stock free for one month.

microsoft publisher for mac - indesign

Exporting to the format of your choice is now extremely well-integrated into InDesign meaning you simply have to click Export and choose the format of your choice such as EPUB, Flash, HTML, PDF Print and PDF Interactive.

publisher for mac - indesign export options

Alternatively, you can publish directly online from Adobe InDesign for Mac to your own Adobe Portfolio site. You get 20GB of online storage space for publication and file storage with your Creative Cloud subscription and publishing to it is as simple as clicking the Publish Online button at the top of the interface. You can dynamically update publications you’ve already published too this way meaning it works well for news magazines. Note that anyone can view your documents online either via a public link or embedded in a website on any device without the need for extra plugins or a Creative Cloud account.

publisher for mac - indesign publish online

Another plus of InDesign Creative Cloud integration is that you can start designing or creating publications on your iPad and then continue working on it on your Mac. Alternatively, you can create publications or designs on your Mac and make last-minute edits or corrections on your iPad on the move.

publisher for mac - adobe indesign ipad

There’s no doubt that InDesign for Mac is the ultimate alternative to Publisher for Mac due to its range of features, general ease of use for a professional DTP software on Mac and ability to publish to all formats. The integration with Adobe Stock allows you to produce truly professional results without the need for expensive and time-consuming photography too. Although InDesign definitely takes longer to learn and get used than many of the alternatives featured here, the long-term benefits and payback are worth it, particularly if you’re planning to create a commercial publication or are a professional publisher.

The good thing for new users is that Adobe has simplified InDesign a lot to appeal to a wider market. There are also plenty of easy to follow InDesign video tutorials to help you get to grips with the software and you can watch it in action creating a postcard below:

The slight downside for some users is that all Adobe products are available on a monthly subscription only. Adobe InDesign costs $19.99 a month if you sign-up annually. If you pay on a month-by-month basis, Adobe InDesign is $29.99 per month. All plans include 20GB of cloud storage and your own portfolio site with premium fonts.

It may however be wiser to subscribe to the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite depending on your needs. A subscription to Creative Cloud costs $49.99 and includes access to all of Adobe’s industry leading apps such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Premiere Pro. If you need OCR for Mac software or a PDF editor for Mac for example, Adobe Acrobat Pro is well worth having as part of Creative Cloud. Or if you’re planning to edit video on your Mac, Adobe Premier is arguably the best video editing software for Mac. If you’re studying or teaching, students and educators get 60% off the entire Adobe Creative Cloud which you might as well go for than pay $19.99 for just Adobe InDesign. There are also special prices for teams and businesses. You can try a free trial of InDesign for Mac to judge for yourself before buying.

3. Swift Publisher ($19.99 Mac App Store)

Swift Publisher is an impressive, user-friendly and slick desktop publishing software for Mac that’s become increasingly popular as a cheaper desktop alternative to InDesign and MS Publisher. Swift Publisher is made by Belight Software who are also the team behind Printworks (see review below) and one of the best home design software for Mac, Live Home 3D. If the monthly or annual subscriptions of Lucidpress or Adobe products are not for you, Swift Publisher provides an excellent value for money desktop publishing software for Mac for just $19.99.

The good thing about all Belight products like Swift Publisher is that it doesn’t require lots of learning like professional DTP software for Mac but produces professional looking results. Swift Publisher is ideal for producing bulletins, flyers or brochures and makes rearranging elements such as images, tables and text very easy. Similar to Apple’s Pages desktop publishing software (see review below), there are 300 professional looking templates which you can customize the way you want.

best desktop publishing software mac - swift publisher

Swift Publisher is also integrated with iPhoto and Aperture and you can export your work to PDF, JPEG, EPS, TIFF and iCloud. You can also define bleeds and configure correct DPI for print publishing. There are also lots of easy to follow video tutorials to get you started with Swift Publisher although we found you still sometimes have to Google certain functions to work out how to do them. Stability also seemed to be an issue when working with lots of images but for pamphlets, flyers and straightforward publications, it works very well.

If you want an easy to use alternative to Publisher without a steep learning curve or monthly subscription fees, then Swift Publisher is an excellent and economic option. You can try Swift Publisher free to judge for yourself and also watch an overview of Swift Publisher in action here:

4. Printworks ($29.99 – Free Trial)

Printworks is also from Belight Software, the makers of Swift Publisher for Mac (see review above) and one of the best home design software for Mac Sweet Home 3D. While Swift Publisher is more focused on page layouts, Printworks is designed for desktop publishing tasks of all kinds from brochures and calendars to CD labels and business cards. If you need to create branded stationary for a small business for example, Printworks would be a better solution than Swift Publisher as it’s designed for publicity of all types (see a full comparison of Swift Publisher vs Printworks here).publisher for mac alternative - printworks two-page layoutThere are over 500 free templates to choose from including bi-fold and tri-fold brochures, address labels plus there’s an additional free Printworks templates here. Most things are included in the purchase price of Printworks but you can also buy 40,000 royalty free clipart images for an extra $9.99. Printworks feels a bit like a more basic but user friendly version of QuarkXpress with useful two-page spread views, master pages for repeat content and unlimited layers. Other smart Printworks features include the ability to import audio tracks from iTunes, import your Apple Contacts, print on CDs and DVDs, support for TouchBar Macs and Google Maps integration. Printworks was also one of the first desktop publishing software for Mac to officially support macOS High Sierra.

You can download a free trial of Printworks and watch a brief overview of it’s main features to see whether it’s right for you.

5. Publisher Plus ($39.90)

It’s clear that Publisher Plus is heavily inspired by Apple’s Pages (see Pages review below) but has tweaked the user interface a bit to make it faster to use. There’s also Publisher Plus Lite which allows you to edit Microsoft Publisher files for free although it only allows you to edit or create a few limited pages and you have to buy the full version for $39.90 to unlock the entire app. One of the common problems with Pages is that for those that are used to Word, it can feel a bit un-intuitive to use with menus and tools constructed in a slightly different “Apple” way of doing things. Publisher Plus has a more familiar Windows feel to it and is as a result now one of the most popular alternatives to Publisher on Mac available.

However, there are a few disadvantages to be aware of. For example, there are plenty of templates available – over 170 in fact ranging from Magazines and Posters to Newsletters and Certificates – but the quality of them isn’t quite as professional as in Pages or Swift Publisher.publisher for mac alternatives - publisher plus There are other limitations too such as the text tool which doesn’t allow you to configure a style and there a fewer choices when it comes to drop shadows. That said, if you compare it side-by-side with MS Publisher, Publisher Plus actually has more features although it should be stressed, only if you upgrade from Lite to the full version of Publisher Plus. The pricing for Publisher Plus is a bit confusing as you can get it direct from the developer for $39.90 with a 30 day money back guarantee or $19.99 from the Mac App Store. Your best bet is probably to try to Publisher Lite from the Mac App Store for free first and then upgrade to Publisher Plus if you like it.

Overall, if you’re trying to create a magazine, advertisement, flyers, resume or business card, Publisher Plus is generally an excellent desktop publishing software.

publisher for mac - publisher plus


You can see some of what Publisher Plus can do and watch a useful tutorial about how to create a flyer using it here:

6. Pages ($19.99 Mac App Store)

Pages is the Apple equivalent of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher and used to be part of Apple’s answer to Microsoft Office, iWork. Pages can do both word processing and desktop publishing and so allows you to create anything that’s possible with Microsoft Publisher. If you’re used to Microsoft Word, it can take some time to work out where the equivalent functions are in Pages but it’s well worth the effort. With lots of professional looking templates and layouts, you can create some really professional results using Pages.

publisher for mac - pages

Pages does have its drawbacks though. Working-out how to format things, insert tables and move elements around the page isn’t as easy as it should be but again, all it requires is familiarity with how Pages works. Some users are also disappointed at recent versions of Pages which they feel aren’t as good as previous versions with some features removed or not as easy to find as before. Be aware that there isn’t much support for Pages or many tutorial videos either so if you get stick, you’ll find yourself having to Google the answer although Pages is so widely used on Mac, you’ll always find the answer somewhere.

Note that if you’re using OS X 10.10 Yosemite and above, you don’t need to buy the entire iWork suite to get Pages – you can download it separately from the Mac App Store for $19.99.

publisher for mac alternatives - pages


You can watch a handy tutorial about what Pages for Mac can do here:

7. iStudio Publisher ($17.99 Mac App Store)

iStudio Publisher is an extremely user-friendly and powerful DTP software for Mac users. If cloud solutions like Lucidpress or professional publishing software such as InDesign are not your thing, iStudio Publisher is an excellent desktop alternative to Publisher on Mac. iStudio Publisher produces professional results and yet is very easy to get started with thanks to the well thought out video tutorials and Quick Start Guide. Creating brochures and documents is very easy – you can simply drag and drop images and text boxes into a page and export the final product to PDF. The only slight downside is that you can’t import and export Microsoft Word DOC files but you can insert content from Word files via RTF, TXT, PDF, and various image formats (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, PSD, AI and EPS). You can also export to PDF and ePUB.

publisher for mac alternative - istudio publisher

For those that need to send the document to professional printers, iStudio Publisher also gives you the ability to work with colors in different colorspaces such as RGB and CMYK which isn’t very common on with consumer level Desktop Publishing Software on Mac and an essential option if you’re planning to get your documents professionally produced. And if you have any problems or questions, we can speak from experience that the developer is also very quick and helpful which isn’t always the case with DTP software on Mac (they’re now available on Twitter too). If you want a value for money user-friendly desktop alternative to Publisher but don’t want to be locked into a monthly subscription, iStudio Publisher might be for you. And if you’re not sure whether to go for it, you can also try a fully functional free 30 day trial of iStudio Publisher before buying.

You can see more of what iStudio can do here:

8. QuarkXPress ($349 Full Version)

Finally, no review of desktop publishing software on Mac would be complete without a mention of QuarkXPress. QuarkXPress used to be the industry standard for Desktop Publishing on Mac many years ago but has suffered from a lack of development and competition from InDesign on Mac. However, the latest version of QuarkXPress is a huge improvement and if you’re looking for a professional desktop publishing software without a monthly subscription, it might be for you (it doesn’t come cheap though at $349).

QuarkXPress is probably the most expensive DTP software you’ll find but it is easily the most well-known and established Desktop Publishing Software among professional publishing houses. However, its market share has taken a big dent over the past decade due to an increasingly bloated design and from the rise of Adobe InDesign and the incredibly powerful Adobe Creative Cloud suite. 20 years ago QuarkXPress was the industry standard DTP program on Mac but increasingly became slow, bloated, buggy and generally left behind. Quark has traditionally been the choice of professional publishers, magazines and newspapers so if you’re only looking for a simple alternative to Publisher, it’s also quite a complicated package to get your head round.

microsoft publisher mac - quarkxpress 2016

However, QuarkXPress has attempted to recover ground from Adobe with the release of QuarkXPress 2016. Some of the most notable features of Quark 2016 are the new color picker tool and ability to export HTML5 publications which InDesign can’t do as yet. There are other things QuarkXPress can do that InDesign can’t too such as the ability to convert PDF and AI files for editing, vertical kerning, gradients with different opacity settings and custom optical margin alignment for example. Note that you can’t open InDesign files although you can copy and paste InDesign items into QuarkXPress.

The new QuarkXPress is certainly an improvement on previous versions and one other strong selling point is that unlike Adobe InDesign, Quark 2016 doesn’t require a subscription. It’s just a one-off purchase of $349 for the desktop software which may appeal to some users looking for a professional desktop publishing software for Mac. For this price, you get a perpetual license with 60-days of free support, free dual activation, a cross-platform license for Mac and PC and ongoing access to free updates. If you’re intending to do some serious DTP work and want to produce high quality professional publications without a monthly subscription like InDesign, then QuarkXPress is definitely worth looking at. You can try a free trial of QuarkXpress to judge for yourself.

publisher for mac - quarkxpress mac


You can see an overview of QuarkXpress 2016 and learn what’s new in the latest version here:

9. FlippingBook ($40+/month – Free Trial)

If you want to create interactive documents on your Mac, then FlippingBook might be for you. FlippingBook is a clever online desktop publishing software for Mac that is extremely easy to use and doesn’t require you to download anything. FlippingBook can be used for creating interactive documents, books, magazines, catalogs or brochures. What’s clever about FlippingBook is that it can make digital documents have a vintage paper look and feel to them to give them a more original touch. The page flip effect in particular looks really cool and feels like browsing a genuine print publication on your Mac or iOS device. We like the way you can import PDF or HTML5 documents into FlippingBook and it automatically then coverts them to a paper feel format.

publisher for mac - flippingbook

FlippingBook automatically optimizes all publications to display as well on desktop as they do on mobile devices and you can even embed them into blogs and websites. You can other useful elements like a table of contents, embed videos in documents and even pop-up images on pages. All pages and publications can be branded with your own logo or background and you can choose to host your publications on your own server or with FlippingBook Cloud.

FlippingBook could be described as an interactive desktop publishing software and while it’s not a direct replacement for Publisher on Mac, it’s definitely a more interesting and creative software. It’s a bit pricey at $40 per month for the Starter version going up to $180 per month for the Advanced version but if you’re looking to really impress clients or customers on a regular basis, it’s probably worth it. Note that although you can use FlippingBook online, there is also a FlippingBook desktop client for Windows although none for Mac as yet.

You can see some examples of what FlippingBook can do here and watch a good overview of FlippingBook below:

10. Scribus (Free)

There are basically no free alternatives to Publisher on Mac that have comparable features and functionality, although LibreOffice (see review above) is about the closest you’ll get to a free version of Publisher on Mac. There is however also Scribus which doesn’t have the features and polished interface of the software covered so far but is definitely worth checking-out if you’re on a strict budget. Scribus is a powerful professional free open source desktop publishing application which can do pretty much everything that Microsoft Publisher can and more. It has plenty of templates to choose from including for brochures, newsletters and posters. There’s no reason you can’t produce professional looking publications with Scribus as these examples show. The main toolbar across the top of Scribus provides all of the main functions and there is a sliderule along the margins to help you be exact with your designs and layouts. As is typical with open source software however, you have to feel your way around Scirbus to get used to it. There is an extensive Scribus Wiki but it’s quite dry and there are no tutorial videos to follow.

publisher for mac - scribus

Scribus isn’t updated very often as it relies on a small group of volunteers to keep it running so bear that in mind if you’re expecting lots of new features and updates regularly. Note that you also need to install Ghostscript on your Mac in order for it to work. There is no official developer support either although there is a Scribus community forum where you may find answers to your problems. If you want a free alternative to Publisher on Mac though, and have time study the manual, Scribus is a very powerful DTP program for absolutely nothing.

You can download the stable version of Scribus for free or if you’re feeling adventurous and don’t mind the odd glitch, you can download the unstabledevelopmental version for free too. You can also watch a quick tutorial of how to get up and going with Scribus quickly here:

And finally, Pagestream doesn’t make our top ten desktop publishing software for Mac list but it is worth a mention because it’s been around so long. Probably the most unusual thing about PageStream is that it’s one of the few Mac apps that’s also available on the good old Commodore Amiga which back in the day, was one of the hottest computers there was for gaming (less so for DTP). As you can imagine, PageStream is therefore a bit dated nowadays but it’s still a surprisingly robust and feature packed desktop publishing software for Mac. PageStream feels a little bit like QuarkXPress in the old days – in fact it was actually released in 1985 before even Quark – and it will definitely appeal to those that miss the old-skool Quark interface of days gone by. For others however, it will feel very dated compared to most of the software featured here but for $99, you do get a very powerful DTP program with an interface for those that miss the interfaces of publishing software in the nineties.

These DTP programs are probably the closest Mac users will get to having MS Publisher in terms of price and functionality. To get a better idea of how they compare, we’ve selected 6 of the best Publisher for Mac alternatives and made a side-by-side comparison below.

Publisher For Mac Alternatives Compared

 LucidpressAdobe InDesignPublisher PlusiStudio PublisherApple PagesSwift Publisher
Free TrialYesYesYesYesNoYes
Export (PDF/JPG)YesYesYesYesYesYes
Collaborate OnlineYesYesNoNoNoNo
Monthly SubscriptionYesYesNoNoNoNo
Works on iPadYesNoNoNoYesNo
Cloud StorageYesYesNoNoYesYes
Drag & DropYesYesYesYesYesYes

How To Open Publisher Files On Mac

If you’ve been sent a Microsoft Publisher files and need to open or edit it on your Mac, there are four ways to open Publisher files on Mac:

  1. Converting the .PUB file online and importing it into another application
  2. Export the file from Microsoft Publisher in another format
  3. Using the free open source LibreOffice suite
  4. Use Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac in Publisher Layout mode to open Publisher files

Here we’ll show you how to do all four.

Important Note: You cannot access Publisher on your Mac via Office 365 online. Some Mac users think that if they have an Office 365 account, they will be able to use PC only software such as Microsoft Publisher, Project, Access and Visio on their Mac. These parts of the Microsoft Office suite, including Publisher, are only available on the PC version Microsoft Office or by downloading Publisher separately for PC. If you need to use any of these Microsoft Office programs that are not available for Mac, you might be interested in our articles on the best alternatives to Visio for Mac, Project for Mac and Access for Mac.

Method 1: Conversion

If you’ve been sent a Publisher file and need to open or edit it urgently on your Mac, you can simply convert the .PUB file to another formats such as Word or PDF which you can then open on our Mac using another application such as Microsoft Word, free word processor Bean for Mac, or Preview which is included for free in OS X. To convert a Publisher file, there are many online file conversion services such as Zamzar that will convert files for you instantly.

To convert a Publisher file on Mac using Zamzar:

  1. Go to Zamzar. Upload the file you want to convert.
  2. Choose a format to convert it to (such as DOCX, PDF, PNG etc)
  3. Enter an email address to receive the converted file
  4. Click Convert

publisher for mac - zamzar convert fileWithin a few seconds, you will receive the converted file. If Zamzar doesn’t work for any reason, or you just want to convert to PDF, try using which converts documents to PDF online.

edit publisher file on mac - online2pdf

Method 2: Exporting In Another Format

If you can contact the sender of the Publisher file (or have access to a PC with Microsoft Publisher installed), it’s also possible to export files from Publisher in a different format. Simply open the .PUB file on Publisher for Windows and then export it to a different format that can be opened on Mac. To do this, go to FileExport Change File Type in Publisher and select the desired format.

open publisher file on mac - export

If you just need to read the .pub files on Mac, then these ways of opening a Publisher file on Mac are sufficient. However, if you need to edit Publisher files on Mac, you’ll need to use LibreOffice or if you’re using Office 2011, you can also use Microsoft Word’s Publishing view. Here’s how to do both

Method 3: LibreOffice

LibreOffice is a free, open-source alternative to Microsoft Office for Mac and is based on the popular free Office suite OpenOffice. As of version 4.0, LibreOffice is the only program to both open and edit Microsoft Publisher files for free although you can’t export to Publisher format yet. You can edit MS Publisher files on Mac using LibreOffice Draw which is LibreOffice’s equivalent to Publisher. As you can see from the example Publisher file imported into LibreOffice below, the interface isn’t as user-friendly or as slick as Publisher but it does work. The formatting may also not be perfectly preserved but can usually be fixed with some manual adjustments.

publisher for mac alternative - libreoffice

The rest of the LibreOffice suite is incredibly powerful and is able to import and export almost all Microsoft Office formats perfectly well. If you’re looking for a Publisher alternative with an entire Office suite thrown in for good measure, LibreOffice is definitely worth checking out. If you’re using an older version of OS X, there’s also a version of LibreOffice for Mac OS X 10.6.8 still available.

You can download LibreOffice free from the LibreOffice website but you can also get it for free from both Amazon and the Mac App Store. You can watch a good overview of LibreOffice below:

Method 4: Using Office 2011 For Mac

One little known feature of Microsoft Word is that it has a basic version of Microsoft Publisher built into it. If you’re using Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac, Microsoft Word for Mac can be transformed into a basic version of Microsoft Publisher if you go to View and then Publishing Layout View.

publisher for mac - word for mac

You will need to convert the Publisher file first to RTF format using one an online file converter as described earlier so that Word can open it, but this workaround turns Word 2011 for Mac into a basic DTP software and is probably the closest thing you’ll get to Publisher on Mac. Note that this method does not work in the new version of Office 2016 for Mac. Microsoft has removed the Publishing Layout View in Word 2016 For Mac.

While these workarounds are a quick and easy fix to opening and editing Publisher files on Mac, they are not suitable as a serious desktop publishing solution on Mac. You’re much better off using one of the MS Publisher Mac alternatives reviewed in this article.



We’re sure that by using one of the solutions or alternatives to Publisher on Mac featured here you can live without Microsoft Publisher. Adobe InDesign still remains the leading professional desktop publishing software for Mac – and the most complete alternative to Microsoft Publisher – but as we’ve seen, there are also many other cheaper, competent alternatives. Lucidpress still remains probably the easiest online alternative to Microsoft Publisher on Mac.

The disadvantage is that design software such as Adobe InDesign, Lucidpress, and Flipping Book all require a monthly subscription which is an increasingly common software payment model nowadays, especially when it comes to design software of all kinds. Subscription based software has the advantage that there’s no need for costly upgrades, no big installation process and you can usually use it on any Mac, anywhere. In the case of Adobe InDesign, you can also get all of Adobe’s apps such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Premier included for a few dollars more if you subscribe to the entire AdobeCreative Suite. The disadvantage of course, it does lock you into a monthly payment plan whereas software such as Publisher Plus and Pages require only a one off payment. However, it’s likely that most software will move towards online subscriptions eventually so in the long run so bear this in mind when making your choice.

If you want a Mac desktop software with a one off purchase and no subscription model involved, Swift Publisher and Printworks are both surprisingly powerful, easy to use and value for money desktop publishing apps for Mac.


Further Reading

If this article has helped you, you may also find our articles on the best Visio for Mac, Project for Mac and Access for Mac alternatives useful too.

If you need to OCR a document and then edit or import the text into one of these Publisher alternatives, we also recommend you read our guide to the Best OCR Software For Mac. And if you need to merge or combine a PDF on Mac after using one of these Publisher alternatives, you may also find our guide on how to Combine PDFs on Mac useful too.

If you have any other problems, questions or issues with these Publisher substitutes for Mac, let us know in the comments below.

About The Author


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69 Responses

  1. Dorothy jones

    This is an EXCELLENT article on Mac versions of Publisher! I’ve been struggling with the decision as to whether to buy or not to buy new Pubisher version, run with Parallels, but have heard pros & cons against it. You are so right–I used the Publishing layout view in MS Word 2011 which I’ve never done, and it works great. I was preparing a tri-fold brochure, used a great template, recolored it to match my theme colors and so far, so good.

    This is an easy-to-understand, self explanatory article that helped me make up my mind to stick with Mac software and as you so aptly stated it, I will leave the world of Publisher behind!!!

    Thanks so much for taking time to explain Mac options in user friendly terms!!!

    • Mac How

      Thanks Dorothy for your kind comments. It’s really great to get feedback like this and that the post helped you so much. Please remember to share it with friends on Facebook and Twitter so that it may help others too.

    • R. Evans

      I agree with Dorothy J. This article is a great read: well constructed, informative, easy to follow. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. Very helpful.

  2. Dorothy jones

    I did purchase Printfolio Bundle and Swift Publisher 3, but I will admit that it is not as easy as Publisher to navigate. I got so frustrated, trying to put together a tri-fold brochure, (time sensitive) that I returned to a MS Word (for Mac) template to finish project. I don’t have lots of time to be a “student” of new software, so not sure this will keep me away from MS Pubisher. We’ll see!

  3. Alvin

    I am thinking of going to a Mac and was curious about my MS Publisher files and potentially switching to Mac DTP program. Your information was extremely helpful in assisting me in my decision. Thanks for the great information.

  4. Shaunda

    So I hate to sound slow but is there no way to open and edit Publisher files on teh MAC?

    • MacHow2

      I’m afraid the best you’ll get is using Word as described at the beginning of the post above. Otherwise, you’ll have to use an alternative.

  5. Samuel Yuen

    if i use pages to do my work, can i reopen the files in a windows 7 OS without downloading Pages ??

  6. Micheal Ranviv

    Great list… I have used the free 30 days trial version of flipb product that is specialized for Mac and its really good to use…..

  7. Karol

    Walt thanks so much for the article! It is just what I needed. I am transitioning from PC to Macbk and I am struggling a bit. Publisher is something I have had to work with a great deal and having some options to look at are very much appreciated! I should be fine overall as I have iPhone and iPad for years, just need to more fully take the leap now.

  8. Chelsie

    HI, The only reason I need to use publisher on my Mac is to create the curved text from the Wordart function. I use it in my family tree artwork designs that you can view on my website attached if you would like to see what I mean…
    I was going to try and find a friend with Windows 7 to install using bootcamp. The friendly guy at JB Hi Fi suggested this today…! Is this the best way to go or is there a program/app on the mac that will create curved text? Thanks Chels

  9. Bill

    Great article! How about iStudio? Any feedback on that?

    • MacHow2

      Hi Bill, Glad it helped you. iStudio is excellent, especially if you’re not very familiar with Desktop Publishing Programs. It has lots of easy to follow tutorials for beginners and produces very professional results.

  10. Junzl

    Helpful review!

    But which of the listed programs are compatible for Mac and for Microsoft?

    • MacHow2

      Thanks and glad it helped you! Of the programs reviewed, Microsoft Word, QuarkXPress and Adobe In-Design all work on both Mac and PC.

  11. NotAMac

    Libre Office – Draw opens and edits Publisher files directly in Mac and Linux

  12. Candy

    So, what format do I save the Publisher file in so I can open in InDesign?

  13. Cat Marusich

    What would be the best program to create a custom map that I can publish to the web? I would like to be able to draw a beautiful map (not by hand) and make it interactive (probably by using a program like mapsalive on the web unless there is a capability to do it in a program that you suggest).

    I also need to make a custom search box for my website that has drop downs and buttons. I have already created the custom links, I just need the html box to control it, and would like to design it myself.

    The more affordable, the better. Thank you in advance!

  14. Gina

    Are all of these programs able to handle a 200 page book with text and photos? I don’t want to start something only to find out halfway into it that it can’t handle the amount of pages. Thanks in advance.

  15. Alma

    This is exactly the kind of help I needed. I’m sick of being on the $Adobe$ InDesign bandwagon and needed to understand where my alternatives lay. Thank you for such an in-depth article.

  16. joyerolfe

    Okaay Here Goes…..I Need Clipart [Gasp] Yes I said it! Please – for Calendars, Birthdays, Holidays – A Foundation I Am Organizing

  17. The Best CAD Software For Mac

    […] software on Mac than PC, the tide is slowly changing. Macs have traditionally been more popular for Desktop Publishing Software than CAD but there’s plenty available now and the main problem you’ll have is choosing […]

  18. Lee

    What a thoughtful and amazingly helpful article. Thank you so very much! I am still unsure of what I’ll do, but knowing that there is someone out there who understands is a reassuring feeling. Thank you for taking the edge off my worries!

  19. Becky

    I have used windows (publisher) for years as a teacher. I just purchased a Mac and so disappointed it does not support publisher. I need an easy alternative – of the ones listed which one is most similar to publisher. Maybe I should return and get a windows pc.

    • MacHow2

      Becky, There’s no need to get a Windows PC. If you want an easy Publisher like alternative, any of LucidPress, Swift Publisher or iStudio Publisher will suit you.

  20. Amanda

    Thanks so much for this helpful article! I’ve been going around and around all day looking for a solution, and you explained everything. Much appreciated!

  21. Polly

    I wonder if you can help me, Ive read your very informative article but still have questions. I am considering buying my daughter a mac book pro for her A level coursework but she uses Publisher at school and would need to work on the documents on her Mac. Would she be better off with a windows laptop?? She will need to switch between school pc and Macbook easily for the next two years with her publisher coursework files. What do you think?

    • MacHow2

      Hi Polly, We could never recommend to anyone buying a PC whatever their needs 🙂 Once you’ve used a Mac, you’ll soon see the benefits in terms of reliability, ease of use, no need for virus protection and less problems in general than using Windows. The best thing in her case would be to install Parallels on the Mac which enables her to run Windows on the Mac. She can then install Microsoft Publisher within this. This will cost a few hundred pounds extra for both the Parallels software and a copy of Windows to install, but it will save her a lot of hassle in the long run dealing with problems with Windows or a PC. Then she can enjoy the best of both worlds 🙂

      • neilhocking

        Or ring up the school, tell them to ditch Publisher and get a grown up program like InDesign which will prepare kids for the real world of DTP 🙂

      • MacHow2

        Good point but probably more expensive for the school I suspect. If she’s going to pursue desktop publishing in the future, Neil is right though – a Mac will stand her in far better stead after her A-levels too than a PC.

      • Polly

        Ive emailed the school …… this space! We have and iMac and iPads at home so know how good they are. It makes sense for her to have a Macbook but the only stumbling block is Publisher. It looks as though I will have to invest in the Parallels software.
        Many thanks for your help. The Apple Store were not very helpful, although they suggested I go to a forum to get advice!

      • MacHow2

        Ok let us know what happens! Surprised that Apple didn’t at least suggest using virtualization software such as Parallels to run Windows on a Mac but the advice you get from Genius Bars sometimes depends on who is serving you it seems.

      • Polly

        Hi all, so I bought the MacBook on Saturday from the Apple Store but they were not able to help me with the software issue unfortunately. I went to PC World and found two very helpful guys who advised me the best way forward was indeed to download Parallels, then load Windows and then Publisher. PC World had a bundle offer so Parallels and Windows was £119 and Microsoft Office 365 was £49.99. I’m delighted to say I loaded everything up on Saturday evening and all went without a hitch. My daughter is delighted and she can work on her coursework on Publisher at home and at school.
        Thank you for all your help and support.

      • MacHow2

        That’s great to hear and glad we could help! If you have any other problems or issues using your Mac, let us know!

  22. Sarah

    Thank you so much for this article! I’ve been working for years in Publisher and on a PC and am switching to Mac this week. I have hundreds of documents that I need to transfer over to a Mac DTP program. This article has been the most comprehensive and helpful that I’ve seen anywhere. You’ve helped my stress levels immensely!

    I’m thinking of opening the .PUB docs in LibreOffice and then saving as a Mac friendly doc that I can then use and edit in one of the other programs you mentioned. From your review above, I’m debating between iStudio Publisher, Pages and Publisher Plus. Does that sound like the best option for converting?

    Thanks again, so much, for posting this helpful article!

    • MacHow2

      Sarah, Glad the article helped you! As regards your question, you could do exactly that – open the .pub files in LibreOffice and then save them in a format that can be opened by iStudio, Pages, Publisher Plus etc. Our advice would be to download LibreOffice for Mac and try opening your .pub files first to make sure it opens the file correctly before purchasing one of the Publisher alternatives for Mac featured here.

  23. Jackie

    Hi all. Last fall I got my new Mac Mini and am now finally getting ready to do two major projects. Have you looked at how these various programs will work on El Capitan? (I just got a new mini with El Capitan!)

    • MacHow2

      All of them should work on El Capitan as most developers have now had enough time to update their software for it. Those that are in the Mac App Store state clearly in the minimum operating system requirements if they do or not. For the rest, it’s of course always best to check the developer website first to make sure.

  24. Jackie

    Thanks. I am sorry that I phrased my question so poorly. I am wondering how the upgrades with El Capitan and with the software (to run on El Capitan) have changed how they work together? Better, worse, the same? I have noticed (can’t remember which ones right now) that some software that was supposed to run on El Capitan have some glitches. This happens to me every time there is an upgrade somewhere.

    I just re-downloaded LibreOffice and am having some issues the the program freezing and crashing. I had stopped using it for that reason and went with Open Office. Thought I would try it again, based on recommendations from a friend.

    • MacHow2

      The problem with open source solutions like Libre Office and Open Office is that they are often slow to update to the latest versions of OSX. If you buy one of the other apps listed in this article, the developer is more likely to update the app quickly when new versions of OSX are released. However, even then it can take some time for them to catch up and update the app.


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